Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Please help me........

Ok, Here is the thing.. I received this email a few weeks ago and some how deleted it, then I was able to retrieve it, and then, well lets just say I am not a computer genius. The reader that had sent me the email is looking for any help that we may all be able to give her.

Okay, here is a question for you and your readers: what can I do about a totally buddy sour jerk? I did not realize just how bad the situation was until the other day we had to put the four horses in the ring because a boundary fence was being redone.
We took the two mares out first and came back for the two geldings. the fjord was just standing in his stall waiting his turn. The QH was going absolutely bonzo! My daughter put him in the freestanding heavy-duty stall where he could not go over the gate, etc. It was rodeo time at the ok corral, I can tell you!! Since we mess with the horses in the ring or outside the barn; this has never been an issue before. Quite frankly, his idiocy scared me--more that he would hurt himself and we would have to bury him(not an easy job since he is 15.1 and about 1,000 lbs). I am so open to any ideas to deal with him. On the down side, financially sending him out to a trainer is not an option or believe me, he would so be there!!!! We simply left him there in the stall with hay and water and walked away. Not too much else we could do. We kept an eye on him(which was not hard as he spent so much time screaming--Funny, none of the others even bothered to answer him. All day, like they knew he was being an idiiiiot. Have not had this go on with any of the others at all. HELP!!!! Thank you in advance. . A


Well reader A

Usually we try to wean them away from the herd, and sometimes we are successful and sometimes we are not so successful in doing so. I have had horses in the past that we were never able to get them over the problem, they would just attach themselves to any horse that they were next to in the barn and they remained herd bound.

When I say that we wean them away from the herd we usually turn them out alone, in the biggest pen we have and feed them out there. When we want to work them and they act like a herd sour beast, then we make them work a little harder. I have always found that work is the best thing for a horse.

To prevent them from becoming herd bound, we try to rotate the horses throughout the barn so they are next to different horses and are not able to become attached to any one horse. I do at times like to turn my horses out with others horses as long as there is sufficient room in the pasture for them. But I also like to turn them out alone for the most part so we do not have these problems.

As far as sending him out to a trainer to have the trainer fix the problem, that may not be the answer either. Remember what he does at the trainers is different than what he will do at home, so it would be my concern that you would be wasting money sending him out. You really need to address the problem at home.

But I have found over the years that this does not always work. Sometimes they get over it and sometimes they do not. Hopefully the readers of this blog will also be able to help offer you suggestions that may help as well.


Union Square said...

My Bonnie was crazy away from her herd.

We weaned her by separating her completely from her friends for several weeks. First, she went in the barn during the day with the yearlings. At night, she went out first alone, then with two other mares that were not part of her herd.

After about a month, she comes in for the morning, gets worked, and goes back out with her own herd after lunch. She is now back with her herd most of the time, which we didn't expect!

Another key piece to refusing to allow her to form deep relationships during the weaning was to give hre lots of attention, once the crazy phase was over.

I honestly didn't think I could do it, but she has made amazing progress. It takes patience, inguenity, and your investment of time and affection.

fernvalley01 said...

I had a herd bound fella that was increasingly difficult . I put him in a stall ,cranked up a loud radio so he could not hear if the others were answering him or not . For a couple weeks I was his only buddy , he depended on me for companionship, food ,water, and turnout. I try to make all of his interactions away from other horses a positive thing . I wouldn't say he was totally cured at the end , but he is much more willing to work alone or with out his "BFF'S

horspoor said...

I've had varying luck with herd bound horses.

Some do seem to make the change if they just aren't allowed to keep screaming and being stupid. Others have to be seperated. Others, you can seperate, get after, change locations...and the first horse they meet is their new best friend.

Drillrider said...

I have a mare that kept calling and speeding up on the way home from trail rides when she was ridden alone. What I did was, as soon as she screamed, we turned around and cantered the other direction for about 30-40 yards.

Then we turned towards home at a walk and continued, screaming, turning, cantering, walking, screaming, turning, cantering, walking, you get the idea. It took about 15 times of doing this, but by the time I was done, we were walking towards home, on a loose rein, with ZERO screaming or trotting to get home faster.

I would begin by taking him away from his friends and as soon as he begins screaming, take him near his friend, work him hard and then take him away from his friends to rest, if he begins screaming, he returns next to the friends to work again. He will soon learn that screaming with equal extra work.

EveryoneThinksThey'reGoodDrivers said...

Buddy sour is my biggest pet peeve. I think it is hard to fix and others agree some won't be fixed.

I was told once that "worrying" a horse more will make them worse. So, rather than separate until they quit, you can separate for 10 minutes. And keep increasing the time each time you do it.

However, I can also see that going backwards - if the horse is acting awful and then you give him what he wants.

I've never tried it. I have used separation and have had luck with that but not on extreme horses.

I've had further training work in the way that the more the horse knows, the more comfortable they are (this is under saddle).

What I want to know is HOW it's started. I don't know but because it's my biggest pet peeve, I am careful on purchases, weaning colts, pasture mates that are too friendly, etc. I also start and ride every horse alone w/o other horses, makes them more independent in the long run.

Sorry to hear you have a "buddy horse." That sucks.

Karen V said...

I have dealt with this quite a bit. (1) Like JR said, rotation is your friend. If you have 4 horses and 6 stalls, leave an empty on between Mr. Crankybutt and the rest. He can see and hear the others, but can nose up. If you can't place an empty stall between them, hang a tarp so the only visual is across the aisle. Put a different horse next to him every day. (2) Turn out alone if possible.

I had one that was particulary herd-bound. Rotation didn't matter, whoever was next to her would do. So I got 4 12 ft panels and set up a pen next to the closest horse. Everyday, I move the pen 5 feet further away. I had this monstrous swath of chewed up gravel driveway, but evetually, her pen was 30 feet away. Once I accomplished that, I house her in my small aren/large round pen, which is on the other side of the house from the barn. At the end of the month, she was in the arena during the day, and the barn at night. She still nickered a greeting upon her return to the barn, but the screaming and pacing and fit throwing at morning turn out disappeared.

Drillrider has good advise for out on the trail.

GoLightly said...

Took me way too long to say the following, on my blog.
As usual.
"You have to keep changing up the normal. Otherwise, you get stuck in a rut of behaviour, which will only dig itself deeper."

Only on my blog, it's like 4 billion words.
You're welcome:)

my bad said...

Hey Jr great blog, I've been lurking for some time and have really enjoyed your posts.

I'm with ETHAGD - I'm interested in how to prevent the BFF thing. I have two long 3 y/o that have been together since they were yearlings. I am having success in taking either one out alone. One could care less, the other throws bit of a fit when he gets left home.

OT - Do you all think horses get jealous? I swear my spotted horse gets down right pissed off when I ride the buckskin. SH is the one that throws the fit when he gets left home. When I put BS back in pen after a ride, SH is pretty shitty to him. Doesn't happen when I ride SH, when he I put him up he comes into pen all happy and content, no fussing. I've noticed other things that make me think the SH thinks I'm his and shouldn't share my affections with BS.

Great blog.

amarygma said...

My first piece of advice would just be to board somewhere else for a month or so.

My horse was buddy sour, but I didn't know, as I was an arena baby myself.

I moved to a smaller place to save money for a summer (FOAF kinda deal), when I didn't need that lighted, indoor arena. Winter in MN means dark, icy and cold so if I'm going to spend as much as I do on a horse, he's going to be useable year-round.

Anyways, when we first moved there, I could ride out on the road, no hesitation from him (now I realize he just had no friends). Over the summer he got horribly sour, as it was a small herd (of 3) and wouldn't leave the property alone, and flipped out if left alone and saw his friends leave.

I tried the longing thing, working him near friends then walking away to hang out and graze out of sight. Unfortunately I think it was undermined by the days and nights he had grazing with his friends so it turned into him looking at me like "Why you such a B?"

We moved back to the boarding facility (60+ horses) and the problem is much smaller. He'll try to turn around a couple times if we go off alone, but can be pushed through it.

Were I to move him back again, I'd probably keep him alone for a bit, and then take advantage of his willingness to travel, and ride daily (or 2xdaily) just away and back to the herd until I felt secure that he wasn't going "wild" again.

Drillrider said...

I was told once that "worrying" a horse more will make them worse.


I don't "worry" the horse, but matter-of-factly make the right thing easy and the wrong thing difficult (Clinton Anderson technique). It is not about punishment or anger when you do it either. I saw Clinton take a gate sour horse and within less than 20 minutes, the horse didn't want to go anywhere near the gate. The horse had the choice and when it went towards the gate, it was worked, when it stood calmly in the middle of the arena, it got to rest.

Cut-N-Jump said...

Prevention is the best thing in most cases. When we weaned our foals, they got to stay out together. Mama was taken away and they were left to take comfort in each other.

When they were brought into the barn, they were at first allowed to be next door neighbors, with an older horse on the other side of them. They are brought out individually and exercised. The other one gets to 'buddy up with the horse on the other side of them while their pal is gone. Then we switch one of them to the other side of their older buddy horse.

They leave their buddy horse to work, their buddy horse leaves them to work, everyone comes back at the end of the day. Then the older buddy horses start getting rotated around. We have a pipe barn so everyone is visible from every stall which helps.

It has so far kept everyone from getting too attached to anyone in particular and the foals especially from developing the behavior to begin with.

As to what causes the separation anxeity? Some horses, like people, it could just be the way their brain is wired. Some may be attributed to following the dams behavior.

And YES! We have seen jealous tendancies in our horses too. Particularly in the mares. JR's mares to be precise. Johnie & Chica are uber devotees to being Daddys' girls. Try telling them they aren't, I dare you. lmao

JohnieRotten said...


I do that horses do show jealousy.

As CNJ pointed out Johnie and Chica are two prime examples that do show that. When I am working Chica or any other horse in the barn Johnie does not take her eyes off of me. The same goes when Chica is not being worked.

I do agree with all of you that separation is the key to alieviating herd bound horses.

As far as the horse that you are talking about Mybad, the best thing that you could possibly do for that horse is to turn him out with other horses and not his buddy.

Keep me posted as to how that works out if you would.

my bad said...

Thanks JR & CNJ - I knew I wasn't imagining things.

Last summer I sold everything, paid off the truck and trailer and hit the road.

I may end up creating monsters. I live in my horse trailer and travel with the weather. The poor horses have become traveling gypsies. Sometimes we find great accommodations, and other times we are staying on State, Federal or blm land. I am self-contained and have a large portable corral and two very well broke hobble horses.

When the option arises to turn them out with other horses I have been very nervous that one of them will get hurt, so I've always opted out. Maybe I need to address that fear?

Hey no one said being a gypsy was easy. lol But the freedom is worth it.

GoLightly said...


You know why:)

Horses are very much creatures of habit.

horspoor said...

my bad,
Yeah, turning them out with other horses would be good...but you situation is pretty unique in this day and age.

I like to give them a few days or a week across the fence from new horses. A little get aquainted time, with a safety net.

My old arab was fine. I could throw him in with any herd and no problem, universally liked (very odd). We used to joke that he was the Armand Hammer of the horse world....'a citizen of all herds'. lol

Juli said...

Horspoor, my Arab/Paso cross is turning out like that. He seems to get along with anyone I put him in with. There are no arguments, nor running, no squealing fits, nothing. They say hi for a couple of minutes then get down to the important business of eating.

Since my last horse thought he was "Alpine, The White Stallion, Kind of the Wild", it's nice to have one I can just turn out. Alpine bred and settled a mare at 9 months old, was promptly gelded, and never did figure that out. No, he wasn't proud cut, we checked.

Regardless, the buddy sour horse. Ugh. I feel your pain here. I don't think you can fix this, you can just keep it manageable. Sometimes.

First, I isolate the horse if possible. If I can find a pasture I can put him in all by himself, where there are no other horses, that's where he goes. Or a paddock. Either one. Then, after a couple of days to settle down, I make a point of spending extra time grooming, I sit in their pasture and read a book, hang out, and otherwise become their buddy. Once he's yelling at me when I come and go, I start ground work. I want them leading properly, stopping when I stop, yeilding all body parts, and focusing. Then the walking starts. I am a firm believer in lots of hand walking.

If the horse argues with me at all during the walks, he gets to do ground work. Every time before we turn back, he gets to "find" goodies, carrots, grain, grass, whatever he likes best. He eats it, we walk back to the barn and do ground work. Sometimes he gets put away. Sometimes he gets tied up for 1/2 hour. Sometimes he gets tied up and then we go out for another walk. I keep the routine very unpredictable, other than goodies and pleasure occur away from home and friends. I get a lot of exercise.

Once we can confidently walk away from home, we do all this again, only under saddle. (This is all assuming the horse is already broke to ride by the way! Babies are a bit different) All the time the horse is pastured by himself.

Only when I have a horse that can confidently and happily walk away from home under saddle, ride for a few hours, and come home with no fight, speeding up, jigging home, etc, do I re-introduce the horse to friends. I had one that I could never put back in with other horses because all my work would just come undone. If I ride with others, I make a point of taking him off by himself at least once and he gets goodies.

The last one I worked with took 6 months to get him safe to ride out alone. Granted I train VERY slowly, but still, it's not an easy or a fast fix.

hls said...

Older thread, I know, but the thing that "fixed" my mare's horrible buddy/barn sourness was moving her to a situation where there aren't other horses. There's just me and my husband to be her BFFs and playmates.

I was told that I couldn't keep her alone, but my farrier said he's seen horses like her from time to time. They are just better singletons than herd members.

And it's true that she's kind of a terrible herd member. She never seems to know how to behave, is always getting beaten up, develops a creepy fixation on one or two herd members to the point where they seem to want to kill her, and is just generally a big, fat pain in the butt.

I love my horse now that it's just me and her; and I'm working hard to become a better rider so I can be a better partner with her. I have a lot of bad habits to unlearn, but it's just one ride at a time, right?